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Discovery Island at Animal Kingdom (Nomad Lounge, Trails, Mickey & Minnie)

HomeDiscovery Island at Animal Kingdom
Discovery Island at Animal Kingdom (Nomad Lounge, Trails, Mickey & Minnie)

Animal Kingdom is the youngest park at Walt Disney World. It’s also one of the most unique thanks to its zoo-like atmosphere.

Even though there are a variety of animals to see, including giraffes, zebras, and elephants, it’s far different than a zoo.

Animal Kingdom is known for having some of the best park food on property, thrilling attractions, exciting tours, and much, much more.

As the biggest Disney World theme park, there’s a lot to see and do, so why not take a deep dive into each land?

Below we explore Discovery Island, the main hub of Animal Kingdom. The park’s most popular attractions may not be part of this land, but there are so many other fantastic elements.

Its beauty is undeniable, especially thanks to the large and breathtaking Tree of Life. Let’s look into Discovery Island and all it has to offer.

Overview

discovery island animal kingdom panoramic photo

Location: Animal Kingdom
Restaurants: 10 Quick Service (2 Snack and Drink Carts, The Feeding Ground, Creature Comforts – Starbucks, Pizzafari, Terra Treats, The Smiling Crocodile, Eight Spoon Café, Flame Tree Barbecue, Isle of Java ); 2 Table Service (Nomad Lounge, Tiffins)
Shops: Island Mercantile, Riverside Depot, Discovery Traders, Tiffins Merchandise Cart
Entertainment: Winged Encounters — The Kingdom Takes Flight, Viva Gaia Street Band!, Beacon of Magic, Tree of Life Awakenings, Mickey and Friends Flotilla, Discovery Island Drummers Flotilla, Discovery River Character Cruise, Adventurer’s Flotilla — Disney Ducks, Adventurer’s Flotilla – Up
Animals: Vultures, Kangaroos, Otters, Cotton-Top Tamarins, Flamingos, Tortoises, Migratory Birds, Porcupines, Lemurs
Attractions: It’s Tough to be a Bug!
Trails: Discovery Island Trail, Tree of Life Garden
Characters: Mickey and Minnie, Kevin
Popular snacks and drinks: Bread Service, Churros, Tempting Tigress, Leaping Lizard, Annapurna Zing, Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale Draft (Nomad Lounge), Mickey Colossal Cinnamon Roll (Creature Comforts)
Not-to-miss: Nomad Lounge, Winged Encounters, Tree of Life Awakening, Discovery Island Trail, characters, flotillas

Discovery Island Map

discovery island animal kingdom land map

Dining

Discovery Island has a range of both Quick Service and Table Service restaurants with some really great food and drink options, including one of our favorites — Nomad Lounge.

Quick Service Restaurants

Snack and Drink Cart

snack and drink cart discovery island animal kingdom

As soon as you cross the bridge from the Oasis into Discovery Island, you’ll see a snack and drink cart to the left outside of Island Mercantile. You can find bottled beverages and novelty snack items, like Mickey ice cream bars.

Creature Comforts (Starbucks)

starbucks creature comforts animal kingdom

If you’re looking for Starbucks, go no further. Creature Comforts is the one and only Starbucks location in Animal Kingdom.

You’ll be able to find it in Discovery Island as you walk towards Africa.

starbucks creature comforts animal kingdom

As you can see, this Starbucks is well-themed and embodies all of the Animal Kingdom vibes.

Of course, you can order Starbucks coffee and other beverages here. If you’re looking for a popular treat, the Mickey Colossal Cinnamon Roll is the way to go.

colossal mickey cinnamon roll starbucks creature comforts animal kingdom

Depending on the special occasion or holiday occurring, the icing on the cinnamon roll just might have a unique color.

Pizzafari

pizzafari sign animal kingdom

Pizzafari is a popular Quick Service spot that’s also a good choice for anyone who is a pickier eater.

pizzafari menu animal kingdom

You can find standard theme park food here, specifically pizzas. Choose from cheese, pepperoni, sausage and pepperoni, along with salads and a chicken parmesan sandwich, to name a few.

pizzafari animal kingdom

Because Pizzafari can get busy, we recommend utilizing Mobile Order, even more so during peak eating times.

pizzafari animal kingdom

Pizzafari has a lot of seating, including tables and chairs indoors and outdoors. If you are looking for a place to rest, cool off, and eat, you may want to try here.

Snack and Drink Cart

snack and drink cart pizzafari animal kingdom

Near Pizzafari and the restrooms, there is a snack and drink cart serving bottled beverages, popcorn, and other snacks, including Mickey ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches.

Terra Treats

terra treats animal kingdom discovery island

As you walk into Africa from Discovery Island, Terra Treats is on your right before the bridge.

There aren’t many food and drink options here. The menu isn’t that exciting either.

terra treats animal kingdom discovery island

However, if you want a quick bite, this might be a good place to try. And if you want pizza but Pizzafari is just too busy, you can order slices of pizza at Terra Treats!

The Smiling Crocodile

the smiling crocodile animal kingdom

The Smiling Crocodile is near the entrance to Asia from Discovery Island.

You can order a variety of tacos at the small stand, like pulled pork, street corn, and chicken. Chips and salsa are also usually on the menu.

Eight Spoon Café

eight spoon cafe animal kingdom

Across from the Adventurers Outpost (where you can meet Mickey and Minnie), is the Eight Spoon Café, another small stand that sells several food and drink items.

eight spoon cafe menu animal kingdom

From baked macaroni and cheese, to a pulled pork jelly doughnut sandwich, to baked macaroni and cheese served with pulled pork, these hearty dishes make for a great quick lunch or dinner.

The stand also serves bottled beverages and snacks like Mickey Pretzels with cheese.

The Feeding Ground

the feeding ground discovery island animal kingdom

Near the It’s Tough to be a Bug! entrance, The Feeding Ground is a small drink and snack stand that serves standard park snacks.

the feeding ground snack stand animal kingdom discovery island

From select bottled beverages, to fountain drinks, to Disney popcorn, this makes for a quick and easy spot to grab something while you’re on the go.

Flame Tree Barbecue

flame tree barbecue animal kingdom

Flame Tree Barbecue is the best Quick Service location in Discovery Island. The menu has a variety of choices for lunch and dinner.

If you’re in the mood for a meat heavy dish, Flame Tree has ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and more.

If meat isn’t part of your diet vocabulary, don’t worry, because there’s a plant-based Hot Link Smokehouse Sandwich that is very good.

It comes with plant-based sausage topped with a tangy mustard barbecue sauce, slaw, and crispy onions on a house-made New England-style roll.

plant based sausage flame tree barbecue animal kingdom

In addition to the food, you can usually try different non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, including frozen drinks.

Some drinks also change with the season, so always check the menu to see if there’s anything new.

flame tree barbecue disney animal kingdom frozen drink

Not only are the food and drinks delicious, but Flame Tree’s seating area is unbeatable. Granted, if it’s raining or extremely hot, it’s not the best.

But, during those lovely sunny days, you can’t top the restaurant’s outdoor seating. It’s one of the prettiest seating areas in Disney World. That’s not a joke.

Just look it:

flame tree barbecue animal kingdom

Plus, there are so many tables and chairs to choose from. There’s a seat for everyone.

Oh, and you have amazing views of Expedition Everest and the flotillas that come by throughout the day. Basically, you get a meal and a show.

flame tree barbecue animal kingdom

When KiteTails was still playing, this was also a great place to watch the daytime show. Sadly, that’s no longer an option.

Tip: Mobile Order is available here, so be sure to use if during busier dining times.

Isle of Java

isle of java animal kingdom

The Isle of Java is located right before the bridge you take to cross into DinoLand, U.S.A.

And, yes, this is also where you can order Joffrey’s coffee.

Plus, there are other tasty treats, like a tiger tail chocolate twist, blueberry muffin, Mickey Pretzel, and more.

Table Service Restaurants

Nomad Lounge

nomad lounge animal kingdom

Nomad Lounge is hands-down the one place everyone should eat when visiting Animal Kingdom. Yes, it is that good.

nomad lounge outdoor seating animal kingdom

First of all, the theming is spot-on. Secondly, there is both indoor and outdoor seating, with the latter offering views of the Discovery River and flotillas. If it’s not too hot out and you want to be able watch characters float by as you eat and drink, request a seat outside.

character flotillas nomad lounge animal kingdom

Finally, the menu is perfection. There are all kinds of small bites you can order. We especially love the churros (which are also gluten-free), Tiffins bread service, and the Impossible Sliders.

Even though it’s only listed on the Tiffins menu, you can also order the Gobi Manchurian, crispy-fried cauliflower with Manchurian sauce and green onion. You won’t be disappointed.

impossible sliders nomad lounge

As for drinks, you can’t go wrong with any of the cocktails, but we recommend the Sinaloa Sangria and Annapurna Zing (order without the glowing lotus flower for a reduced price).

If you’re more of a beer person, try the Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale Draft. This is an African-inspired deep amber ale that was brewed exclusively for Disney World.

gobi manchurian nomad lounge

There are plenty of non-alcoholic cocktails you can order, as well.

Nomad Lounge doesn’t accept reservations and walk-up capacity can fill up quickly. You can join the walk-up list in the My Disney Experience app rather than physically walking up to the host/hostess stand.

annapurna zing nomad lounge

Sometimes wait times aren’t as long as you’re told, but if this is a top priority, you’ll definitely want to plan accordingly.

Tiffins Restaurant

tiffins restaurant animal kingdom

Connected to Nomad Lounge is Tiffins Restaurant, a Signature Dining experience where you can try African and Asian cuisine.

tiffins restaurant animal kingdom

From charred octopus as an appetizer, to shrimp and grits for a main course, to a tropical trifle for dessert, Tiffins’ menu offers items that you can’t get anywhere else across Disney World.

Reservations are accepted here up to 60 days in advance.

Seating Areas

There are several seating areas throughout Discovery Island.

Flame Tree Barbecue has a ton of outdoor seating offering stunning views of Expedition Everest.

flame tree barbecue animal kingdom

If you aren’t ordering from the Quick Service location, you can walk to the left of where you order and pick up food that leads to all of the seating.

Pizzafari has both indoor and outdoor seating available to all guests. If you sit outside here, it makes for great people watching.

pizzafari outdoor seating animal kingdom

Shops

Discovery Island has several stores offering a wide range of merchandise, including Minnie ears, spirit jerseys, bags, keychains, socks, seasonal items, and more. These are some of the best stores to explore while in Animal Kingdom.

Island Mercantile

island mercantile animal kingdom

You can shop for a range of items at Island Mercantile, including Avatar-themed merchandise.

island mercantile animal kingdom

If you don’t have time or simply don’t want to walk back to Pandora to shop, you can find different toys and apparel inspired by the land and movie.

island mercantile animal kingdom

There are other Disney offerings here as well, including shirts, jewelry, hats, and ears.

Riverside Depot

riverside depot animal kingdom

Riverside Depot has a great Disney home goods and kitchen area. This is where you’ll want to stop if you’re looking for a coffee mug.

coffee mugs riverside depot animal kingdom

You can even find Star Wars items.

star wars merchandise riverside depot animal kingdom

This store connects to the Discovery Trading Company, another shop in this land.

Discovery Trading Company

discovery trading company animal kingdom

Discovery Trading Company is a good-sized gift shop selling all kinds of merch, including spirit jerseys.

spirit jerseys discovery trading company animal kingdom

This store also has a variety of Pixar, Disney, and Star Wars socks.

disney socks discovery trading company animal kingdom

You can even find a portable phone charging station (aka where you can swap and purchase FuelRods) at Discovery Trading Company.

fuelrod discovery trading company animal kingdom

Tiffins Merchandise Cart

tiffins merchandise cart animal kingdom

If you look across from Tiffins and Nomad Lounge, you’ll see a stand that is covered. This is known as the “Tiffins Merchandise Cart.” More often than not it seems to be closed, but as you walk from Discovery Island to Pandora keep your eyes peeled because you never know when it will be open.

Attractions

There is one main attraction in Discovery Island. It’s one either you’re going to love or hate. It might even frighten kids — and possibly adults.

It’s Tough to be a Bug!

it's tough to be a bug animal kingdom

It’s Tough to be a Bug! is about a 10-minute 3D film inspired by Disney and Pixar’s A Bug’s Life.

What’s cool about this attraction is that this theater is at the base of the Tree of Life.

That said, it does have scary moments that both kids and adults may not like, including flying quills shooting out from a tarantula.

This can make for a nice, short break if you want to rest or cool off. And if you need a time filler, this is a good option.

We don’t recommend using a Genie+ Lightning Lane selection for It’s Tough to be a Bug! because the show runs continuously throughout the day and it isn’t a top attraction.

Tip: As you exit the attraction, pay attention to both the animals and the views.

Animal Kingdom Genie Plus Priorities

Characters

If you want to see Kevin from Up in the wild or meet Mickey and Minnie in their world traveling outfits, go no further!

Mickey and Minnie

adventurers outpost at animal kingdom

At the Adventurers Outpost, you can meet Mickey and Minnie in their adventure outfits.

This is a popular meet and greet, so much so, the wait times can build depending on the day and crowds.

mickey and minnie - adventurers outpost - animal kingdom

That said, you can use a Genie+ Lightning Lane selection here if you’ve purchase the service for the day.

You can check wait times for meeting Mickey and Minnie in the My Disney Experience app.

mickey and minnie meet and greet animal kingdom

Kevin

Kevin from up - animal kingdom

One of the best parts of Discovery island is seeing Kevin from Up roaming. She’s constantly on the move and doesn’t have a specific spot for photos.

To make sure you catch her, Kevin’s roam times are posted in the My Disney Experience app. If you filter by “Characters,” you’ll see Kevin listed (tap her name for specific times).

Entertainment

Discovery Island is known for its vibrant and unique entertainment. The following you certainly don’t want to miss during your visit.

Winged Encounters — The Kingdom Takes Flight

winged encounters animal kingdom

This is a truly cool show, albeit being in the direct sunlight with zero shade.

But, if you’re hanging around the Tree of Life area in Discovery Island, make time for Winged Encounters. It’s the best type of bird-watching.

You get to watch 6 species of South American macaw fly around and they are absolutely stunning. It’s pretty spectacular.

winged encounters animal kingdom

There are also bird care experts running the show discussing macaw facts, which are super interesting.

A showtime range is listed in the My Disney Experience app. Shows happen sporadically throughout the day. You can always ask a Cast Member when the next show is set to begin.

Viva Gaia Street Band!

viva gaia street band animal kingdom

The Viva Gaia Street Band! plays daily on the stage across from Flame Tree Barbecue.

Between the music, singing, talents, and costumes, this show is fun and will give you all kinds of energy.

sand sculpture animal kingdom

Each set is usually about 30 minutes or so. Showtimes are posted in the My Disney Experience app.

Keep in mind that sometimes this stage is decorated for special occasions, like when there’s a new movie release. You may even find a sand sculpture from time to time.

Tree of Life Awakenings

tree of life awakening animal kingdom

In the evenings, the Tree of Life comes to life with magical projections displayed on the trunk and beautiful lights on the branches and leaves.

Depending on the time of year, you may even catch a special holiday awakening.

Tree of life awakenings holiday

The nighttime show plays about every 15 minutes throughout the evening. There isn’t a set schedule, so there is no need to line up hours beforehand. You can easily catch it in passing.

Keep in mind that depending on when the park closes each day, it might not be dark enough for the Tree of Life Awakenings to run.

Animal Kingdom is known for closing the earliest out of all the theme parks and sometimes it’s still daylight when it does.

But, if it is dark enough before the park closes for the day, the show starts at dusk. You should be able to find a start time in the My Disney Experience app.

Beacon of Magic

tree of life beacon of magic

For Disney World’s 50th anniversary, the Tree of Life turns into a Beacon of Magic in the evenings.

This show is similar to the standard Tree of Life Awakenings, but a special show for the anniversary.

The Beacon of Magic also alternates with Tree of Life Awakenings and plays about every 15 minutes. There isn’t a set schedule, so you don’t need to grab a spot early.

Know that depending on when the park closes each day, it might not be dark enough for the Beacon of Magic to show.

Animal Kingdom usually closes the earliest out of all the theme parks and sometimes it is still daylight when it does.

But, if it is dark enough before the park closes for the day, the Beacon will begin at dusk. You should be able to find a start time in the My Disney Experience app.

Note about the following cavalcades: All of the character flotillas can be seen sailing around the Discovery River. They have set showtimes that are posted in the My Disney Experience app and we recommend checking the schedule ahead of time. You usually have to be in the right place at the right time to catch them (crossing a bridge, walking a trail, dining at Nomad Lounge or Flame Tree Barbecue, or taking a break in the Discovery River Amphitheater).

Mickey and Friends Flotilla

Mickey 50th flotilla
  • Features: Mickey and Minnie

Discovery Island Drummers Flotilla

discovery island drummers animal kingdom
  • Features: Discovery Island Drummers

Discovery River Character Cruise

timon and rafiki animal kingdom cavalcade
  • Features: Pocahontas and Meeko from Pocahontas or Timon and Rafiki form The Lion King

Adventurer’s Flotilla — Disney Ducks

  • Features: Scrooge McDuck and Launchpad McQuack

Adventurer’s Flotilla – Up

  • Features: Russell and Dug from Up

Trails

Besides the animals, another special part of Animal Kingdom are its trails.

There are 2 you can explore in Discovery Island. They offer breathtaking views of other areas of the park, Tree of Life, and greenery.

Many of the trails connect no matter where you enter, so keep walking and see where you end up!

Save this map for future reference as you explore the Discovery Island trails:

discovery island trails graphic

Discovery Island Trail

You can find 2 entrances to the Discovery Island Trail:

  • One near Pizzafari (towards Africa)
  • One across from Adventurers Outpost (towards Asia)

Tree of Life Garden

tree of life garden trail animal kingdom

There is one main entrance for the Tree of Life Garden, which you can find across from the restrooms next to Pizzafari as you walk towards Africa.

tree of life garden trail animal kingdom

What makes this trail so special is the amazing views you get of the Tree of Life.

Animals

Discovery Island is home to many different animals. We recommend taking the time to actually search for the following creatures and learn about each one. After all, you are visiting a park about animals and conservation.

Save this map for future reference as you explore Discovery Island for animals:

discovery island animal map

Tip: You can also find select animals in the My Disney Experience app under the “attractions” category. Plus, at the park entrance next to the park guide map, there should be literature on the animals and their locations.

Vultures

vultures animal kingdom discovery island

Keep in mind that you can’t necessarily see the vultures up close, but from afar as they are usually near the Tree of Life.

Kangaroos

kangaroos animal kingdom discovery island

Believe it or not, some guests don’t even know Animal Kingdom has kangaroos, because they aren’t listed in the My Disney Experience app.

While they are known to hop around, usually you can spot them by the Tree of Life.

As you walk towards Africa and right before you get to the Otters, there is a section you can enter to observe the kangaroos.

You’ll be able to see them from afar, as they are usually hanging out by the Tree of Life.

Otters

otter grotto animal kingdom

The otters are some of the cutest and most popular animals at Animal Kingdom.

Sadly, they aren’t always out and are easy to miss, but when you do get to see them, it’s so worth it.

otter grotto animal kingdom

You’ll come upon Otter Grotto on your right as you walk from Discovery Island towards Africa.

Cotton-Top Tamarins

cotton-top tamarins animal kingdom

Next to Terra Treats (right before you enter Africa), you’ll see the Cotton-Top Tamarins.

cotton-top tamarins animal kingdom

Some of them are tiny or good at hiding, so take a minute to look for them.

Flamingos

flamingos discovery island animal kingdom

As you first enter the Discovery Island Trail (the entrance near Pizzafari), you’ll stumble upon some flamingos.

Tortoises

tortoise animal kingdom discovery island

The Galapagos Tortoises are located close to the Tree of Life base and near It’s Tough to be a Bug!

tortoise animal kingdom discovery island

You should definitely take some time to visit them. They are really interesting and we’ve personally seen some cool interactions between the tortoises.

Porcupines

Next to the tortoises are African Crested Porcupine. If you don’t see any during your visit, know that sometimes they aren’t out because the flotillas can scare them.

Migratory Birds

migratory birds animal kingdom

As you can see below, Disney has the Migratory Birds marked in a specific location.

But, as you walk around the trails and the Tree of Life, you’ll be able to see these different birds, which are listed as White Stork, Saddled-Billed Stork, and West African Crowned Crane.

Lemurs

lemurs animal kingdom

Behind Dug & Russell’s Wilderness Explorer Clubhouse, which is currently being used for stroller parking, there is a path that is somewhat hidden that leads to the lemurs.

You can also access the lemurs via the It’s Tough to be a Bug! exit path.

Activities

Discovery Island has a couple activities, including one straight from the movie Up.

Wilderness Explorers

Wilderness Explorers gives guests of all ages the chance to channel Russell from Up and earn badges to become a Wilderness Explorer.

wilderness explorers animal kingdom

This activity is complimentary. All you have to do is stop at the “Wilderness Explorer headquarters” stand, which is located right off the bridge connecting the Oasis to Discovery Island, to pick up a handbook.

You can also get a handbook from Wilderness Explorer Troop Leader locations in Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A., and Pandora.

wilderness explorers clubhouse booklet animal kingdom

A fellow Wilderness Explorer will give you everything you need before setting out on self-guided nature-themed challenges you’ll complete around Animal Kingdom.

Once you’ve collected over 25 badges, you’ll be able to call yourself a “Wilderness Explorer” and also recite the famous call (IYKYK).

Coin Press Machines

There are several coin press machines in Discovery Island. They are as follows:

Island Mercantile has 8 different Zootopia-themed designs! You can purchase 1 for $1.00 or all 8 for $5.00.

coin press island mercantile animal kingdom

You can find a range of designs at Riverside Depot, including characters from A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Aladdin, and Tarzan. You can purchase 1 for $1.00 or all 8 for $5.00.

coin press riverside depot animal kingdom

The Discovery Trading Company has 3 different coin press machines with a variety of designs, including Coco, Lilo & Stitch, Monsters Inc., The Lion King, Pocahontas, and Animal Kingdom, to name a few. You can get 1 coin for $1.00 or 3 for $3.00.

coin press discovery trading company animal kingdom

Disney PhotoPass Photographer

There are several PhotoPass options in Discovery Island, as noted below.

Just keep your eyes peeled for Disney PhotoPass photographers as you walk around in case you want to get a nice photo taken, especially in front of the Tree of Life.

Oasis Bridge to Discovery Island